As I have passed the year and half mark of Bob’s death, what have I learned? It has been a rough road but it has had some fruits — some are sweet, some are bittersweet, some never ripened, and some are rotten! Here are some of the learnings.
I have discovered Qigong and writing and they have been exciting new paths to follow. They both challenge my skills and provide a great deal of fulfillment.
Living history has lost much of its luster without Bob. I continue to enjoy some parts of it, but the passion that Bob brought to it is missing. I was enjoying his passion as much as I was enjoying the activities of living history. And doing living history is hard work (packing and unpacking, cooking over a fire, keeping a fire burning, answering constant questions) that cannot now be shared.
I do not miss TV and, in fact, prefer not having it on much at all. I still watch a little; with Bob the TV was a major presence in our home.
Figuring out my identity and how to live my life as a single person has been complicated when living with my daughter and her family. And living with them is a great joy that I wouldn’t trade. That makes for a complicated transition from widow to single.
Cooking for one is harder than cooking for two (forgetting the daughter and her family for a moment).
Getting sick or mildly incapacitated is a source of worry. I never worried about not being able to do for myself when Bob was alive. Having knee surgery, for instance, was a stressor, but I did not have to worry about functioning in the house. Bob took care of it. Now that he isn’t here to do those things if I can’t, how will I handle the situation?
Schedules are harder to keep or even feel a need for. Meals and sleep times do not need to consider anyone but me and can be pretty erratic.
Decisions are harder to make. They need to be made now without a peer for discussion. Whether it is a purchase or home maintenance or where and when to go on a road trip, the decision is all mine. Sometimes that feels almost immobilizing; and sometimes it is a delight. I made many of the decision in our home before Bob died, but WE always talked about them. Talking to my daughter or my son is not the same and, in fact, often feels wrong.
One of the biggest and most disturbing learnings is that much of what WE did was not what I would have done if Bob were not part of that WE. That leads to so many “what if” questions. And they are best left unexplored because they lead no where. The part that is worthy of exploration is the question of what do I want to do now. And that has the smack of blaming Bob and I don’t believe that or want to go there. It is sometimes hard to enjoy something that I am doing without feeling guilty because I am enjoying it. This is clearly MY problem. I am sure Bob has no issues with me being happy! But it sneaks in every so often and I find it a tough battle.
And I have learned that I am strong, that I can do what is needed, that I can make good decisions. Others have also told me (and am starting to be able to own) that I have some wisdom and that it is worth sharing. That feels weird. But sometimes I can see it and I am sharing it.
All of this in a nutshell tells me that I am growing – still! Pretty amazing and pretty pleasing. Age has not led to too much inflexibility — except for those knees.